Hightower: How Can a CEO Feel Good About Price Gouging to Get Rich?

Gouging people on the price of a life-saving medicine in order to jack up CEO pay. Corporate price gouging is never nice. But gouging people on the price of medicines they rely on to stay alive is worse than not nice — it’s predaceously evil. And if you think corporate morality can’t go lower than that, how about gouging people on the price of a life-saving medicine in order to jack up the personal pay of a drug maker’s CEO? That’s the bottom level of grotesque immorality where Heather Bresch dwells. She is chief executive of Mylan, a pharmaceutical profiteer that markets the EpiPen medical device, which literally is a lifesaver for people who suffer deadly anaphylaxis allergy attacks. These allergy attacks kill nearly 200 people a year in the U.S. alone. Within seconds, something as common as peanuts or a bee sting can cause sever rash, swelling of […] Read More

4 Ways the One Percent Is Trying to Buy Their Immortality

Tech oligarchs are deathly serious about buying off the grim reaper. Humankind has long dreamed of immortality. Surely, somewhere, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth awaits, allowing us to escape our inevitable fate of non-existence. Not surprisingly, some very wealthy tech executives are determined to buy their way out of that inevitability. These guys are living the high life and they don’t want it to stop. Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, is worth somewhere north of $2 billion, and a member in good standing of the one-percent club that is projected to control half the planet’s wealth by next year. While economic inequality does not appear to weigh on him, other forms do. “Probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead,” he told the New Yorker recently. His thoughts on death? “Basically, I’m against it,” he told the Telegraph […] Read More

9 Industries That Scare You Into Buying Things You Don’t Need

Disaster is lurking and we will save you! Call them the products of fear. Advertisers, like politicians, know it works. If you scare people enough, they are easily sold a bill of goods. Define a problem, even if it really isn’t a problem, then bombard the masses with the solution to the (non) problem. In the introduction to AlterNet’s new series on the politics of fear, Don Hazen wrote, “Americans are endlessly bombarded with media messages that are fearful and deceitful. Almost daily, we are urged to fear exaggerated or fake threats… this media onslaught literally shapes how our brains work and what people believe.” These threats can be huge, like terrorism lurking around the corner, or they can be minor, like the need to protect your baby’s knees from the hazards of crawling. The common denominator is that these aren’t really such huge problems and you are being subjected […] Read More

17-Year-Old Kristiana Coignard Shot and Killed by Three Police Officers after Brandishing Knife

It’s hard to imagine if she walked into a police department in nearly any other country in the world that she would’ve died in a barrage of bullets. American police will kill you. Run from them, they’ll kill you. Act nervous when they scream at you and they’ll kill you. Do nothing at all and they’ll kill you. Walk down the stairs and they’ll kill you. Put your hands up and they’ll kill you. Mental illness matters not to American police if they imagine, sense, or perceive a threat of any kind; They will shoot you over and over again until you die. It’s not this way around the world, but in the good ‘ol US of A, our officers are shooting and killing people at a record pace. So, when Kristiana Coignard walked into a Longview, Texas police department, and picked up the phone there to speak to someone, the fact that she would soon be shot to death by […] Read More

10 Cities Where an Appalling Number of Americans Don’t Have Enough Food

It’ll get worse if the Republicans continue their attacks on anti-hunger programs. Hunger is a concept that is often connected with poor developing countries, but it has also become increasingly common in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49.1 million households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2013. On December 11, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its 32nd Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness. The report covered 25 American cities: 71% said the number of requests for emergency food assistance had increased in the last year, while only 25% said that requests for emergency food assistance had decreased. And 84% of the cities surveyed expected emergency food requests to increase in 2015, but many food banks may not have the resources to meet those requests. Helene Schneider, mayor of Santa Barbara and co-chair of the Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, warned in the report […] Read More

Are Vapers Just the Latest Drug Users to Be Demonized?

Vapers and e-cig users need to join forces with the drug reform movement to fend off prohibitionist impulses. New Year’s Eve is around the corner and no doubt millions of smokers will make resolutions to quit. Many smokers would love to give up the habit. But smoking is an incredibly hard addiction to quit. Many heroin users say it is harder to quit smoking than quitting heroin. Thankfully, there is an exciting new tool that is helping millions give up on smoking: e-cigs and vaping. Stand on the streets of most major U.S. cities for five minutes and you will see people walking by with an e-cig instead of a cigarette hanging from their mouth. It is encouraging how fast e-cigs and vaping have taken off. Smokers aren’t stupid. When offered a safer alternative, millions have chosen it. The fact that e-cigs can be purchased at most delis and […] Read More

2014: How Worried Should We Be About E-Cigarette Liquids?

A debate with the New York Times. The following first appeared on Substance.com:  E-liquids—the liquid nicotine used to refill reusable e-cigarettes—are sold legally nationwide. But in the last couple of days, the seemingly harmless, smoke-free liquids have sparked some starkly contrasting media attitudes. Matt Richtel of The New York Times writes that e-liquids are a dangerous poison—even more so than tobacco in some cases. But Reason.com‘s Jacob Sollum vehemently counters Richtel’s assertions, writing that, considered more broadly, e-liquids are no more dangerous than vitamins. We broke down the arguments in order to directly compare their views on some of the key issues: What is the range of nicotine levels commonly found in e-liquids? NY Times: Most range between 1.8 percent and 2.4 percent, concentrations that can cause sickness, but rarely death, in children. But higher concentrations, like 10 percent or even 7.2 percent, are widely available on the Internet. Reason.com: The strongest fluid sold by 11 of the 13 […] Read More

2014: Cruel Politics: How Republicans Are Literally Shutting Down Hospitals

The Republican refusal to expand Medicaid is a disaster. Republicans are literally forcing hospitals to close down. Last week, the Lower Oconee Community Hospital in Glenwood, Georgia announced that it would shut its doors for good. The facility has been struggling with its finances for years, but things got really bad over the past few months and the hospital had to lay off almost 100 of its employees. According to Lower Oconee CEO Karen O’Neal, the hospital’s problems were the result of strained resources. And the reason why, of course, is that Republicans have refused to take Medicaid money that goes to hospitals to pay for uninsured people. Wheeler County, Georgia, where Lower Oconee is located, is the type of place the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – was supposed to help. Back during the Reagan administration a law was passed that said that hospitals had to accept patients […] Read More